HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
Punahou makes it back to title game
The defending champions go on a tear in the fourth quarter
Shawna-Lei Kuehu scored 20 of her 22 points in the second half as top-seeded Punahou outlasted Konawaena 58-43 last night in the semifinals of the Hawaiian Airlines/HHSAA Girls Basketball Division I State Championships.
The Buffanblu, riding a crest of success, were simply too deep and relentless for Konawaena in a rematch of last year's state title game.
"We've been talking these past few weeks about being determined to succeed," coach Mike Taylor said. "I thought in the first three quarters, Kona did a great job of taking us out of what we wanted to do. I think we were determined, but we weren't poised."
Punahou overcame 24 turnovers and 1-for-10 shooting from the 3-point arc by sinking 77 percent of its foul shots (17-for-22). Shaena-Lyn Kuehu came up with 14 points.
"Janelle's a playmaker. We needed a playmaker tonight," Taylor said. "For a freshman to come into this situation, all the credit's to her. She did a great job."
Punahou (11-2) will meet Roosevelt at 8 p.m. today in a matchup of private- and public-school champions from Oahu.
"We contained (Kuehu) in the first half, but their other girls picked it up," Konawaena coach Bobbie Awa said. "We need to get back to being more disciplined, but this was a good experience for us."
Kuehu took only five shots in the first half, but her persistence paid off as Konawaena tired. The 5-foot-9 sophomore made all eight of her free-throw tries, and added seven rebounds and five assists.
"In the first half, I saw the team step up when I wasn't doing as well," she said. "We talked about having confidence, and going to the basket."
In all, 16 of Punahou's 20 baskets came on assists against Konawaena's man-to-man defense.
Wildcats forward Jazzmin Awa-Williams, averaging 23 points per game in the tourney, was limited to 10 points.
"I feel bad for Leesa (Deniz)," Awa-Williams said of the senior. "I wanted us to win this for her. I don't like losing to Punahou,, and now we're not going to play for the title."
Mana Hopkins led the Wildcats with 14 points, and Haunani Liftee tallied 12, but they committed 34 turnovers against Punahou's relentless fullcourt press.
"We made so many bad decisions. We had no patience whatsoever," Awa said. "We did a good job of getting the pass in at first, but after a while, we just got rattled and couldn't even get the pass in."
Konawaena (14-3), runner-up of the Big Island Interscholastic Federation, will meet rival Honokaa in the third-place game today at 6 p.m.
KONAWAENA--Kaua Wall 0, Malia Tanaka 0, Liana Hanato-Smith 0, Kaytie Bowman 3, Kara Hanato-Smith 0, Leesa Deniz 4, Haunani Liftee 12, Jazzmin Awa-Williams 10, Mana Hopkins 14, Marissa Minor 0, Lucy Brown 0.
PUNAHOU--Ciana Aiwohi 2, Elizabeth Abe 2, Rebecca Lau 0, Melanie Feldman 3, Lauren Tompkison 0, Dara Tompkison 1, Cristen Aona 0, Shawna-Lei Kuehu 22, Mahina Macfarlane 0, Shaena-Lyn Kuehu 14, Janelle Nomura 7, Sophie Merrifield 5, Chelsea Deptula 2, Devon Yamauchi 0.
3-point goals -- Konawaena 1 (Liftee), Punahou 1 (Merrifield).